Establishing comprehensive social protection and fulfilling the human right to social security for everyone is the foundation of a people-centric strategy for achieving social justice and inclusive development, and embedded into the 2030 Agenda in SDG 1. The Action Plan to Strengthen Regional Cooperation on Social Protection in Asia and the Pacific recognizes that social protection is a key policy tool to strengthen inter and intra-generational solidarity, to prevent poverty, curtail inequality, boost human potential and development, promote dignity, equity and social cohesion, and revitalize the social contract within society.
To promote positive socio-economic development based on the principles of solidarity and inclusivity, with a view to reinvigorate a new social contract in the region, ESCAP developed a self-paced online learning course on social protection. The online learning course aims to help the region capitalize on social protection as a key policy instrument to achieve inclusive and sustainable development. The online learning course consists of 5 modules covering every stage of the life-cycle.
While social protection is a familiar term often used in development economics and policy dialogues, its specific meaning and the principles on which it should be based might be less clear. Module 1 of the self-paced online learning course offers an introduction to social protection and how the element of solidarity fosters inclusive socio-economic development; It further looks into what social protection is, why we need it and what it can achieve.
Only a small share of children, approximately 18 per cent, in the Asia and Pacific are covered by social protection programs. Module 2 of the online learning introduces key concepts and instruments for child-focused and sensitive social protection based on inter-generational solidarity. It looks at children’s specific rights, needs, and vulnerabilities and presents social protection design choices and key social protection instruments for children. This module also looks at the benefits and costs of investing in social protection for children and presents key financing options for Universal Child Benefits.
The success of Asia and the Pacific in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development depends on a healthy, protected and productive working age population. However, the majority of people in working age, many employed in the informal economy, are left unprotected in the face of life-cycle contingencies as well as disasters and shocks. Module 3 presents social protection concepts related to the working age population (individuals aged 15 – 64) and the contingencies they face, and introduces key social protection responses and important program and scheme design considerations that will ensure that all people in working age benefit from inclusive social protection systems based on principles of solidarity.
While coverage for old-age is significantly higher in the region, approximately 72 per cent, many schemes and programs provide only limited benefits and only partially comply with key principles of social security. Module 4 therefore introduce social protection concepts and instruments for people in old-age with a view to strengthen elements of solidarity, collective financing and risk pooling and to ensure financial sustainability of the respective schemes and programs. This module presents important elements of pension design and policy, the different types of pension models, how to build inclusive pension systems based on principles of solidary, and introduces the multi-pillar pension model.
Module 5 introduces ESCAP’s SPOT Simulator to help policymakers gain a better understanding of the potential impact of social protection benefits and make data-driven decisions. This module illustrates major functionalities of the SPOT Simulator and allows participants to design parameters for social protection benefits and simulate the impact and cost of social protection benefits.
The five modules aim to build knowledge and awareness on the different social protection instruments and their potential impact on socio-economic development. For the region to fully exploit its socio-economic potential and to not leave anyone behind, government must strengthen their social protection systems in line with key social security principles, including the principle of solidarity, and close coverage gaps and ensure income security for everyone.